The Best Chicago Charity Galas to Attend in 2024

Although outstanding nonprofit galas occur throughout the calendar year, May is a particular strong month in Chicago for important parties with a purpose. Enjoy the following events, which offer action-packed days and evenings filled with socializing, dinners, cocktails, performances, dancing and more knowing that your participation creates extraordinary impact for others, too. And please read further for our list of the best Chicago-area galas the rest of 2024, too.

Editor’s Note: Please check each event’s website for the most up-to-date details.


Steppenwolf Theatre Company 2024 Gala

When: Saturday, May 11, 6:30pm

Where: Bridgeport Art Center

Photo by Kyle Flubacker

Steppenwolf’s Gala generates funding for their Ensemble, which brings bold and innovative theatrical experiences to the stage and creates educational programs that reach thousands of teens throughout Chicago. Join Steppenwolf artists and leaders for cocktails, dancing, a gourmet seated dinner, and a live auction.

Merit School of Music Gala 2024

When: Tuesday, May 14

Where: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago 

Photo by © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2022

Merit School of Music will host an unforgettable evening benefiting equal access and excellence in music education. Join them at the Four Seasons Chicago as they gather together as a Merit community, experience amazing student performances, and honor our special guests for their contributions to the arts. This year they are honoring Ellard (Butch) L. Pfaelzer, Jr. and Thomas (Tom) M. Leopold with the Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts, as well as Morgan Lewis with the Corporate Leadership Award.

One Million Degrees’ 16th Annual Degrees of Impact Gala

When: Friday, May 17, 6:00 pm

Where: Rockwell on the River

Mayor Brandon Johnson at Degrees of Impact 2023

One Million Degrees is the only organization in Illinois dedicated to providing comprehensive support to low-income community college students. From tutors and coaches, to financial assistance and professional development, OMD empowers scholars. Join the Annual Degrees of Impact Gala to support this cause.

The Service Club’s Spring Hat Luncheon: The Impact Our Hats Hold

When: Friday, May 17

Where: The Ritz-Carlton Chicago

The Service Club’s 2024 Spring Luncheon is a day to come together and celebrate with co-chairs Julia Jacobs, Bethany Florek, and Whitney Reynolds for what is definitively THE Hat Luncheon in Chicago! Guests are encouraged to wear their finest millinery and showcase their unique style for the Annual Hat Contest. This year’s theme is “The Impact Our Hats Hold.”

Goodman Theatre Gala: Dramatic Elegance

When: Saturday, May 18, 6:30pm

Where: The Fairmont Chicago

Musical Performance by Tony Award Winner Aaron Tveit

Tony Award Winner Aaron Tveit will headline the 2024 Goodman Gala: Dramatic Elegance. This black tie event will include dancing to the Gentlemen of Leisure Band and more, all while proceeds go to benefit Goodman Theatre’s Education and Engagement Programs

Fresh Starts’ 9th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic

When: Sunday, May 19 and Monday, May 20

Where: Rich Harvest Farms

Jermaine Dye of the Chicago White Sox will host the 9th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic. The event will feature a Pre-Tournament Dinner on Sunday, before Monday’s main golf tournament. Guests will mingle with MLB, NFL, NBA, and LPGA friends as well as other celebrities. Funds from the event support low-income, uninsured, and underinsured children with physical deformities through comprehensive healthcare treatments at no cost to the children and their families.

Music Institute of Chicago Gala Benefit

When: Monday, May 20, 5:30pm

Where: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

The proceeds from MIC’s Annual Gala Benefit provide the single-largest source of funds for financial aid and scholarships, tuition-free community engagement and school programming, and neighborhood-based service activities that positively impact thousands of individuals of all ages and from all backgrounds each year. The evening begins with a private cocktail reception. An elegant dinner follows, peppered by once-in-a-lifetime performances from MIC students and faculty, as well as an award ceremony for the 2024 Honorees.

Shirley Ryan Ability Lab’s Spark! Gala

When: Thursday, May 23, 6-10pm

Where: Rockwell on the River

Recognized as a top rehabilitation center for more than 30 years, the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab introduces its revolutionary care through five Innovation Centers. Each Innovation Center focuses on an area of biomedical science: brain, spinal cord, nerve, muscle/bone, pediatric and cancer. The annual Spark! Gala supports these efforts.

Friends of the Chicago River Big Fish Ball

When: Wednesday, May 29

Where: Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk

The Big Fish Ball is Friends of the Chicago River’s largest fundraising event. It brings together hundreds of leaders and young professionals from the Chicago community to celebrate the vibrancy of the Chicago-Calumet River system. The night will honor the Chicago River Blue Awards recipients, which celebrate the highest achievement in river-sensitive designs along the river.

Environmental Law & Policy Center’s 2024 Gala

When: Friday, May 31

Where: Offshore Rooftop Navy Pier

The Environmental Law & Policy Center’s Gala funds go toward using legal, public policy, and communication tools to improve the environment and economy. This summer event is the 31st Anniversary Gala to celebrate the collective work accomplished over the last 30 years to protect the Midwest’s environment.


The Woman’s Board of Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago 75th Annual Summer Ball

When: Saturday, June 1

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago serve young people ages 5 to 18. They provide not only emotional support but educational and physical support as well. This Summer Ball supports the Women’s Board and goes toward these efforts.

Chicago International Film Festival’s 60th Anniversary Cinema Soirée

When: Saturday, June 1, 6pm

Where: The Geraghty

An unforgettable evening of philanthropy and “fun-raising” awaits guests at the 60th Anniversary Cinema Soirée, hosted by Cinema/Chicago. Film enthusiasts, arts advocates and special guests will come together to indulge in delectable cuisine, sip on curated drinks and enjoy lively entertainment in support of the Chicago International Film Festival and its year-round public and educational programming. The event will help raise funds to support this organization as they keep artistry, discovery and cinema alive.

Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund 35th Annual Golf Classic

When: Monday, June 3

Where: Various country clubs

The DMSF’s Golf Classic celebrates the 35th year of igniting potential and enriching lives. Help provide educational access for high-achieving students with limited financial means to attend college prep high school, with the opportunity for college and life-long success.

Chicago History Museum’s Making History Awards

When: Wednesday, June 5, at 6pm

Where: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

The Making History Awards will host Chicago History Museum leadership and give insight into the Museum’s current initiatives and exhibitions. This event provides financial support to the Chicago History Museum’s programs which are the backbone of their scholarship and civic engagement efforts.

NAMI Chicago Light The Darkness

When: Thursday, June 6, at 5:30pm

Where: The Geraghty

At NAMI Chicago’s anticipated annual gala, they shine a light on their programs, incredible partners, 2024 honorees and, most importantly, their community. Join them as they illuminate changemakers who are transforming the landscape of mental health and paving the way for a healthier Chicago.

Joffrey Ballet Midsummer Celebration

When: Friday, June 14, at 7pm

Where: City Hall Events

“The otherworldly celebration of your dreams eat, drink, and dance the night away.” Joffrey Ballet invites guests to celebrate a year of artistic feats with them, as part of their Joffrey For All program which “forms pathways for every person to experience the joy of dance.”

Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s Spirit of Shakespeare Award

When: June 2024

Where: TBD

Historically, Chicago Shakespeare has awarded the Spirit of Shakespeare Award to a cultural or civic leader at its gala, in 2023 the honoree was Barbara Gaines. Details have yet to be announced for their 2024 event but the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre will look to welcome hundreds of attendees to their gala in the hopes of raising one million dollars to support their creative and artistic efforts as well as extend theatre opportunities to educational institutions and the community.


Lincoln Park Zoo Ball

When: Friday, July 12

Where: Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo’s community engagement initiatives prioritize working with organizations and residents to establish long-term relationships and create change that benefits wildlife, as well as keep the zoo free and open to the public. This ball supports these efforts and is presented by the Women’s Board of Lincoln Park Zoo.


American Cancer Society Skyline Soiree

When: Saturday, August 10, 7-10pm

Where: Salt Shed Chicago

The Associate Board of Ambassador’s annual gala, Skyline Soiree, is Chicago’s premier young professional celebration that raises funds to support the lifesaving mission of the American Cancer Society. Guests can expect an evening filled with live entertainment, specialty beverage stations, a photo booth, raffle and many other exciting activities.

Birdies & Books Charity Golf Classic 

When: Monday, August 26

Where: Shoreacres

Birdies & Books is the longest-running fundraising event for Bernie’s Book Bank, which provides books for underserved Chicagoland children. This signature event affords players a meaningful and exclusive golf experience at one of the top 55 courses in America.


After School Matters Gala 2024

When: Wednesday, September 18, 5:30pm

Where: 167 Events, 17th Floor

Join After School Matters as Chicago’s leaders come together for an evening of teen showcases, fabulous food and drinks, and networking to celebrate Chicago youth. “All teens deserve to dream big, discover their potential, and be inspired to find pathways for their futures. Help us to create these opportunities by investing in After School Matters today for a brighter Chicago tomorrow.” For more than 30 years, After School Matters has been investing in Chicago communities by offering paid after-school and summer programs in the arts, communications and leadership, sports, and STEM to Chicago teens. This gala would further support those efforts.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Symphony Ball

When: Saturday, September 21, 5:30pm

Where: Symphony Center and The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

The Women’s Board of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) invites sponsors and gala attendees to a private pre-concert reception before enjoying dinner, dancing and festivities. Proceeds of the event go to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association.

Children’s Service Board Gold Coast Fashion Show

When: Monday, September 23, 11:30am & Thursday, September 21, 6:30pm

Where: The Ritz-Carlton & The Geraghty

The Children’s Service Board of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is hosting their annual fundraiser fashion show, which will see proceeds go to support the Board’s two-year, $2 million commitment to Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation Fellowship Program. Monday will be a luncheon while Thursday will be evening cocktails.


Lyric Opera’s Season Opening Gala

When: Friday, October 4, 7pm

Where: Lyric Opera of Chicago

This year, before the Gala begins, is a very special, one-night only show with the extraordinary Patti LuPone, as she performs Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes. Afterwards join the Lyric for their annual Season Opening Gala. The night includes a walk on the red carpet like a star, premium seats to the most anticipated concert of the year, as well as dinner and dancing.

American Cancer Society’s Discovery Ball

When: Saturday, October 19

Where: Hilton Chicago 

For more than 100 years, The American Cancer Society has been leading the fight to end cancer. This annual black-tie event includes an auction, late night activities, and a raffle all to support the American Cancer Society’s fight to free the world of cancer through research, support and education.


The Service Club of Chicago’s Annual Gala

When: Saturday, November 2 & Sunday, November 3

Where: The Ritz-Carlton Chicago

This gala is the largest annual fundraiser to support The Service Club’s Philanthropic Grant program. Join Co-Chair Alexandra Meneses and the Gala Committee at The Ritz-Carlton as the backdrop for lively libations, delicious food and stunning décor! The night’s itenerary is yet to be announced, check their website for more details.

PAWS Chicago Fur Ball

When: Friday, November 15

Where: Drake Hotel

The PAWS Chicago Fur Ball is Chicago’s premier pet-friendly black-tie event. This unique gala invites guests to dress their pets in formal four-legged wear and walk the red carpet for a celebration to benefit PAWS Chicago. Guests will enjoy silent and live auctions, raffle, dancing, and dinner buffets. Lucky dogs in attendance will also be treated to a divine dinner served in crystal goblets at the special dog buffet and can enjoy pawdicures, massages, and pet-friendly spritzes in the Dog Spa.


The Service Club of Chicago Holiday Luncheon

When: Tuesday, December 3

Where: The Union League Club

Join the ladies of Service Club and Co-Chaires Debi Catenacci, Kathleen Haines Finley, Lezley Hodes, and Karen Peters to celebrate the season in style. This event occurs in The Union League Club’s stunning Lincoln Hall, with caroling and vendors offering unique gift ideas.

Children’s Research Fund Campaign & Children’s Ball

When: Saturday, December 7, 6:30pm

Where: Hilton Chicago

Children’s Research Fund Celebrates 25 Years With Lurie Children’s Hospital

Each year the Children’s Research Fund welcomes recognized leaders in the business and philanthropic community to oversee the annual fundraising campaign and Children’s Ball. Since 1951, these efforts have raised more $125 million to support innovative medical research.

Earlier This Year…

These top Chicago galas have already had their 2024 event. Be sure to mark your calendar for next year.

Alzheimer’s Association Power of Purple: A Reason to Hope Luncheon

When: Tuesday, March 19, 11:30am – 1:30pm

Where: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

This annual luncheon benefitting the Alzheimer’s Association will feature an inspiring program and conversation around Alzheimer’s impact on families and our community — as well as honor honor caregivers and recognize leaders in the fight to end Alzheimer’s. Power of Purple: A Reason to Hope will bring together corporations, foundations and individuals to raise critical funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research as we enter this new era of treatment.

Harris Theatre’s 20th Anniversary Celebration: An Evening with New York City Ballet

When: Wednesday, March 20, 5pm

Where: Harris Theater

A special performance from New York City Ballet as well as an elegant, seated dinner at the Art Institute of Chicago is how the Harris Theater is celebrating its 20th anniversary. All of this is in support of Harris’ work and will ensure that the Theater continues to support local arts organizations, present the highest caliber artists from around the globe, and nurture the next generation of arts enthusiasts for many years to come. 

The Box United Gala

When: Thursday, April 11, 6-9pm

Where: The Chicago Winery

The 2nd Annual Box United Gala is designed to help us expand our Fight Like a Girl boxing and leadership development program to 20 new schools on our waitlist in Chicago. Get ready for a beautiful night of community and impact at the Chicago Winery.

Chinese Mutual Aid Association (CMAA) Voice and Vision Gala

When: Thursday, April 11

Where: Galleria Marchetti

Photos courtesy of CMAA

The Annual Gala is an evening of dinner and programming that includes 400 supporters, stakeholders, community leaders and allies from the metro Chicagoland area. CMAA looks forward to sharing its community impact and client stories. CMAA’s mission is to serve the needs, promote the interests, enhance the well-being of low-income immigrants and refugees of all generations, and foster their participation in U.S. society.

City Year’s 30th Annual Ripples of Hope

When: Thursday, April 18, 6:00pm

Where: The Field Museum

At Ripples of Hope, City Year strives to mirror Robert F. Kennedy’s 1966 address in South Africa through the civic contributions of their honorees and the service of City Year Chicago’s AmeriCorps members. Kennedy proclaimed a stand against injustice can create a small “ripple of hope” and eventually build a “current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” This work is impossible without your support. City Year looks forward to sharing and celebrating their journey with you during this year’s dinner.

American Heart Association’s Heart of Chicago Heart Ball

When: Saturday, April 20, 6:00pm

Where: Aon Grand Ballroom, Navy Pier

The American Heart Association is celebrating 100 years this year. Help them continue their mission of being relentlessly focused on the heart of our community. Through the Heart of Chicago Heart Ball campaign, they celebrate their collective success in driving change, funding science and improving behaviors — no matter where, or how, we gather. That means taking their efforts beyond the ballroom, and working every day to help every heart.

Thresholds at 65: The Future is Brights

When: Thursday, April 25, 5-9pm

Where: The Geraghty

Thresholds at 65: The Future is Bright

This year, Thresholds will celebrate 65 years of providing home, health and hope for thousands of individuals with mental health and substance use conditions. By joining them for their gala, you can help raise critical funds for Thresholds’ life-transforming services and explore the future of community-based care.

Ingenuity Presents Tapestry: Weaving Equity for Arts Education

When: Wednesday, May 1, 6pm

Where: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

Ingenuity presents Tapestry: Weaving Equity for Arts Education. The event will be a celebration of Ingenuity’s annual achievements in driving systems-level change for Chicago’s arts education ecosystem. In partnership with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), arts educators, local arts organizations, and arts education investors, we are collectively transforming arts education for 330,000 K-12 CPS students and 642 schools.

Family Focus Dream Builders Dinner

When: Thursday, May 2, 6:00 pm

Where: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago 

Family Focus is a non-profit organization that strengthens families in the Chicago area so they can achieve upward economic mobility through programs and services rooted in anti-racism and social justice. The event will feature guest speakers Chanel DaSilva, a multi-talented entrepreneur, choreographer, director, and ARTivist, and Wilmer Valderrama known for his extensive acting career, including iconic roles in “That ’70s Show” and “NCIS.”

BUILD Gala 2024

When: Friday, May 3

Where: The Geraghty

BUILD supports Chicago’s youth with street violence prevention and intervention, out-of-school activities, summer camps, mental health care, educational support, and more. The Annual Gala is the event that raises funds for efforts to face gang violence and provide assistance in overcoming trauma.  

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Butterfly Ball 2024

When: Friday, May 3, 6pm cocktails | 8pm dinner, program, and dancing

Where: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Over nearly 25 years, Butterfly Ball has raised $40 million in support of the Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. This support enables the Nature Museum to significantly impact the community through educational experiences for Chicago’s children.

Writers Theatre WordPlay Gala

When: Saturday, May 4, 6:30pm

Where: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

Writers Theatre invites you to enjoy a special one night only performance to raise critical funds for their mission — which is to produce intimate theatrical experiences with their reputation for excellence. It is essential that they meet this year’s fundraising goal to continue their work in partnership with artists, students and neighbors. “We’ve only just begun writing our next chapter which is why this year’s Gala theme is, You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.”

The Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center 29th Annual Spring Luncheon

When: Monday, May 6, 10:30 am

Where: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

The 28th Annual Spring Luncheon will feature Actress, Model, Author and Entrepreneur Brooke Shields. Funds raised will support The Woman’s Board Endowed Fund for Research and Clinical Trials at RUSH.

The Family Institute Gratitude Gala 2024

When: Wednesday, May 8, 5:30pm

Where: Galleria Marchetti

This year’s gala will honor Ben Zobrist — former Chicago Cub and MVP of the 2016 Chicago Cubs World Series team — with the Mental Health Community Impact Award, and the Sachs Family Foundation is the event sponsor. The dress code is Cocktail Attire, with no formal gowns or tuxedos necessary. This event is a cocktail style reception with an open bar, food stations and passed hors d’oeuvres, as well as a silent auction. All proceeds will benefit The Bette D. Harris Family & Child Clinic, which provides free mental and behavioral therapy services for individuals, couples and families that could not otherwise afford it.

Spirit of Design’s Annual Fundraiser

When: Thursday, May 9, 6:00pm

Where: The Walden Chicago

Designs for Dignity is a Chicago nonprofit transforming nonprofit environments voluntarily and without payment. Their mission is to empower through design. Spirit of Design is Designs for Dignity’s signature annual fundraiser accompanied by cuisine, cocktails, a silent auction and a raffle.

More Events

Not every organization that will hold a gala in 2024 has released their details. Here is our list of a few “TBD” galas to keep an eye out for this year:

Lyric Opera of Chicago Wine Auction

Since its inception in 1988, Wine Auction has raised more than $11 million in support of Lyric Opera of Chicago. Traditionally held by the Women’s Board every three years, Wine Auction 2018 netted a record-breaking $2.2 million and was named a “Top Charity Wine Auction” by Wine Spectator. This formal affair draws 400 guests from around the country and features a reception, elegant dinner, and live auction.

Ravinia Gala

This Gala, hosted by the Women’s Board, benefits Ravinia’s Reach*Teach*Play education programs. Annually, these programs engage more than 75,000 students and community members in interactive, free musical opportunities throughout Cook and Lake Counties.

Adler Planetarium Annual Celestial Bash

The Celestial Ball is the Adler Planetarium’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Proceeds from the event support the Adler’s approach to scientific exploration, celebrating community and connection to the universe. Attendees can expect to dance the night away under the celestial dome of the Grainger Sky Theater.

WINGS Purple Tie Ball

The mission of WINGS Program, Inc. is to provide housing, integrated services, education, and advocacy to end domestic violence. Funds from the night’s event go toward serving their efforts.

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